13 February 2003 | Robin Parker
Online auction giant eBay is targeting corporate purchasers with a "one-stop shop" for business supplies.
The website, www.ebaybusiness.com
, directs users to a range of sector-specific marketplaces, including sections for metal-working, restaurant and food service, construction, agriculture and industrial supplies.
It contains categories for computers, clothing, office supplies and general electronics goods.
Purchasers will be able to bid for goods in online auctions, but eBay aims to address more immediate needs with a "Buy It Now" function for wholesale lot or fixed sale purchases.
Customers can also buy from authorised third-party resellers.
It hopes to nurture long-term buyer relationships through constant monitoring of the standards and reputation of its supplier network.
It estimates suppliers post more than 500,000 new business products every week, and eBay set up the service to speed up the search process.
According to eBay's estimates, annual business-to-business sales have grown by 90 per cent in the past two years, with particularly strong growth in metal-working and restaurant and food services.
The launch of the service comes as research firm IDC's Procurement Manager Survey found that almost a third of purchasers used eBay.
Rob Rosenthal, senior research analyst, business-to-business strategies, at IDC, said eBay's combination of low cost and wide range was on its way to becoming "an important procurement tool".